Parrots have long been refining their selection of activities that drive humans nuts!  The following half-dozen activities are involved in 90 percent of the cases of Human-Avian Insanity Reaction Syndrome, or HAIRS:

    The Great Toe Hunt: where a bird, large or small, chases human feet with the ferocity of a pitbull on crack. This is an impressive activity when performed by a bird that can assume maximum fluffage, such as a Moluccan Cockatoo, but generates more avian humor and human embarassment, if performed by a parrotlet or budgie. Humans seem to have an instinctive need to protect their toes and perform interesting dances and vocalizations in an effort to avoid a painful beaking.

    The Garbage Tornado: where wings are flapped to produce maximum air movement while holding tightly to a perch. The result is a whirlwind of detritus from the bottom of the cage. This is an activity usually launched just after the appearance of the Vacuum of Death and frequently results in the Dance of Major Frustration on the part of the human victim.

    The Fountain Of Poop: a disgusting activity, reserved for those special moments when guests are admiring the ?pretty bird.? The trigger for this activity is usually a phrase like ?Are they messy?? followed by an answer in the negative. Within seconds, a fecal presentation is made that makes the great African termite mounds pale in comparison. Some special options, exercised at the discretion of the avian involved, can include pooping for distance, special aromatic overtones, and saving the presentation until placed on the arm of the enquiring guest. The probability of an occurrence of the latter option is directly proportional to the cost of the clothing or the importance of the guest.

    The Word: a favorite game also played in the presence of guests. A word or phrase of startling vulgarity, the suggestion of a barely-possible physical act, or the imitation of an embarassing human body noise is presented in the presence of a guest. The vocalization is usually something never heard before the time of utterance and may involve a word, phrase, or sound NEVER heard in the household previously (parrots share these special items in an unknown and mysterious way). This maximizes the embarassment of the human host because no amount of incredulity or statments like ?Pastor Smith, I don't know WHERE he learned that word!? can erase the damage done.

    The Hypersonic Scream: All birds, regardless of size or temperment, have the ability to create a high-piched scream, screech, or cry that can be tuned to the nervous system of their human victims. Utterance of this sound can result in any or all of the following in a human: hair loss, spontaneous projectile vomiting, loss of bladder or bowel control, sudden urge toperform unspeakable acts of violence, and the desire to view episodes of Baywatch. The sound has been described variously as ?a cat being attacked with a belt sander,? ?a banshee being attacked with a belt sander,? and ?a belt sander being attacked by a radial arm saw and an F-15.? In some cases, neighbors have interpreted the sound as that of a human being dismembered with a Taco Bell ?spork? and have called the authorities.

    The Remodeling: an activity involving a bird, a beak, and expensive household woodwork, carpet, flooring, paneling, drywall, or furnishings. In some cases, fecal material is used to change the complexion of furniture. In other cases, the beak is used to turn expensive hosehold building and flooring materials into compost. The brilliance of this activity is that, though is creates great anger in the human victim, it also creates a greater sense of guilt which makes the human think that the damage was ?all MY fault. If I had only locked the cage. If I had only given my bird more toys. Oh, he must be *so* bored and it's all MY FAULT.?